Mobility News

Intel Makes PC, Tablet Biometric Authentication Bet

Steven Burke

Intel Capital has made a venture capital investment in Delta ID, a Newark, Calif.-based company focused on bringing iris eye authentication technology to tablets and PCs.

The Intel Capital investment, which was part of a $5 million round of financing that included other strategic investors, comes with chip giant Intel making an aggressive bid to bring authentication technology, including facial recognition, to tablets and PCs to avoid the hassle of passwords.

Intel, in fact, is expected to announce advances in biometric authentication at its Intel Developer Conference 2014 next week in San Francisco. Intel partners said they expect the company to make facial and voice recognition on PCs and tablets widely available in 2015.

[Related: Intel Touts Latest Developments With VAR Opportunities ]

Intel released earlier this year a Perceptual Computing Software Developer's Kit (SDK) aimed at allowing applications to do facial analysis, speech recognition and close-range depth tracking.

Timothy Shea, CEO of Alpha NetSolutions, a $1.7 million Millbury, Mass.-based solution provider, said the problem with some biometric offerings like iris recognition is that they can sometimes be foiled by something as simple as a user with pink eye.

Biometric authentication for consumers on a laptop or tablet could be a nightmare for solution providers that find bring your own device (BYOD) productivity workers locked out of their systems, he said. "I can see users calling tech support because they can't get on to their device and log on to the server," he said.

"I'm in favor of multifactor authentication, but it has to be multifactor," he said. "It can't just be a retina scan, for example, where if a user gets poked in the eye they won't be able to get into their laptop or tablet. You can't have someone with pink eye not being able to get into their tablet or laptop."

Shea said the biometric offering ultimately must bypass the hardware and be implemented at the operating system level. He noted that when he was using a Lenovo laptop with fingerprint identification running Windows 7, the fingerprint authentication function was bypassed when he upgraded the laptop to Windows 8.

Delta, for its part, has made what it called "remarkable advances" in iris recognition technology, making it suitable for mainstream applications and devices. Delta claims its ActiveIRIS technology is "fundamentally different" from other solutions on the market.

In a prepared statement, Erik Reid, vice president of Intel's Mobile and Communications Group and general manager of the Intel Tablet Business unit, said Intel believes "biometrics technology will increasingly become a part of how people interact" with PCs and mobile devices.

"Working with biometric companies such as Delta ID is part of Intel's initiatives to eliminate the hassle of passwords," he said. "Intel Capital's investment will help accelerate the adoption of iris recognition by the ecosystem of device manufacturers, service providers and users."

Delta ID has said the new financing brings total venture backing raised by the company to $6.1 million.


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